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Chanakya’s 7 Secrets Of Leadership By Radhakrishnan Pillai | Book Review

The perks of being an Amazon Prime member includes the free availability of some fantastic EBooks (Kindle version). Recently, we get a chance to read some really nice books being an Amazon Prime member. Here are some of them.

Continuing our quest to find more such good books and share our unbiased reviews for the same with our readers, we brought to you today, a discussion about Chanakya’s 7 Secrets of Leadership by Dr. Radhakrishnan Pillai and D. Sivanandhan (publishers: Jaico Books).

Book Title : Chanakya’s 7 Secrets of Leadership
Author :
Publisher : Jaico Publishing House (1 January 2014)
# of Pages : 264 (Hardcover)
1038 KB; 230 (Kindle EBook)
# of Chapters :
Purchase Link(s) :

Let us take a look at the cover page of the book.

Book Cover:

Book cover serves as a gateway to the virtual world explored within. It also is responsible for making the first impression of the book. That’s why despite believing in the fact – one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover – one cannot ignore the influence of the book cover (in both positive and negative aspects) on purchase and/or reading decisions.

Chanakya's 7 Secrets Of Leadership By Radhakrishnan Pillai | Book Cover

Chanakya’s 7 Secrets Of Leadership By Radhakrishnan Pillai | Book Cover

As you can see, the cover page of the book reflects the modern management theories in an interesting way. You must have been familiar with the management structure, where at the top-level DSS system resides which is a thin body, then comes the MIS (which could have been multi-layered) which is bigger in size than the DSS. And then comes the actual workers or foot-soldiers who execute the strategies on the ground. It can be best visualized as a pyramid. The leader obviously is at the top-level of the pyramid.

The book shows the back of the head of a corporate employee having bar-code like mark made with pyramids. (It will remind you of “Corporate Chanakya” – another book by Dr. Pillai.)

The book talks about the principles given by Chanakya hence the upper section of the book reflecting ancient scripture style, fits in quite interestingly.

Overall, a thoughtful cover page.

The Book And What We Think Of It:

Our regular readers know that usually, we talk about the book plot and our views for the same in two different segments. The nature of Chanakya’s 7 Secrets of Leadership is a little different and thus we’ve decided to merge these two segments here.

When you talk about rules and regulations, the recipients need to have faith in them. And, faith often comes through the authenticity of the person delivering the message. Chanakya, of course, is a legend and the mantras and guidelines he gave are like timeless jewels. At the same time, it would not be wrong to think that the things that are working exceptionally well during his time may not fit in the current world! Well, in that case, the best way to convey those messages and rules through some practical examples taken directly from the modern world, right?

Dr. Radhakrishnan Pillai is a research scholar who has done extensive research on Chanakya and his works and applicability of the guidelines given by Chanakya in real world. His body of work and his personal life is a proof of that. Dhanushkodi Sivanandhan (popularly known as D. Sivanadhan) the Police Commissioner of Mumbai, promoted as part of the aftermath of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. He was retired as the Director General of Police, Maharashtra. (If you’ve watched the famous Hindi Film – Company – by Ram Gopal Verma, Mohanlal has played the role of D. Sivanandhan.)

Dr. Pillai and Mr. Sivanandhan teamed up together for this book. In this book, the authors have tried to explore the 7 leadership rules given by Chanakya in the context of the modern world and taken practical examples from D. Sivanadhan’s real life for respective rules (to elaborate, how it was actually implemented by him). This way, scripture meets practical aspects, in this book! Considering D. Sivanandhan practiced leadership in the police force for over 35 years, there obviously are lot of incidents from his life that are quoted in the book.

Of course, to avoid spoilers, we cannot talk about all the practical examples the authors have talked about in the book. I will try to quote some statements from the book while discussing it, so without going through the spoilers, you can get a fair idea about the quality of the book and what you can expect from the same.

In the beginning of the book, Dr. Pillai talks about Chanakya, his rules of leadership, his contribution and more. And it is not only us, Indians, acknowledge the contribution of this great leader, but, it is respected worldwide. As Dr. Pillai says:

Chanakya has been credited by many historical scholars as The first person in world history to create the concept of a nation or rashers.

The core of the book is “the 7 leadership sutras” given by Chanakya, as the book title suggests. And, the author (when used in singular term – consider we are referring Dr. Pillai) makes it very clear in the beginning itself.

One of the leadership models given in the Arthashstra is “Chanakya’s Sapatangah” – the seven pillars of a kingdom.

The author has done extensive research about Chanakya’s works and he thanked all those who did the same and preserved the things in various ways and conveyed to the current generation. For example, he specially thanks Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi for making TV Serial Chanakya and Chinmaya Mission for its various efforts. Interestingly Dr. Dwivedi and Chinmaya Mission joined hands for TV Serial Upanishad Ganga.

The content of the book is segmented into 7 chapters (obviously).

A leader is a leader, no matter in which field or aspects he/she is leading. The author talks about “Types Of Leaders” in the book in detail. As said in the book:

Leadership is not just by rank or designation; it is by attitude and competence.

And, in the same context there comes an example of Tukaram Omble – the man who caught terrorist Ajmal Kasab despite facing many bullets.

In the Mumbai terror attack of November 26, 2008, Tukaram Omble, an assistant police sub-inspector, took a leadership position. He marched ahead, taking bullets on his chest, but caught Ajmal Kasab alive Omble proved his leadership, irrespective of his designation.

The book explores a lot about policing duties. Most people don’t actually know the amount of versatility required in this profession. Finding a missing person is different than solving a murder, traffic management is different than providing security to VIP, managing social harmony is different than controlling gang-wars,… the list is really long. And, there always is a high amount of pressure on them to perform. Unbound duty hours and need to remain alert and active throughout make their lives very difficult. Of course, by and large, common men don’t have sympathy towards policemen and mostly policemen are not admired because of the corruption in the system and the way they treat common men. The book points out both these aspects.

… There is corruption in the system; some policemen are no better than criminals in uniform. However, not all policemen are corrupt or criminals, Policing is an essential part of society, and without it, a society will collapse.

Here are some leadership related quotes from the book:

All great leaders had the quality to understand, face and speak the truth.

Others start, but stop when they face obstacles. Great leaders start and make sure they succeed, in spite of the problems.

An ability to trust others and others being able to trust you are important qualities a leader has to develop.

Leadership has to be practiced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It is a lifelong commitment.

A leader should not be worried, rather he should be concerned.

In human beings, nature has placed the head above the heart. A leader should let the head rule the heart, and not the other way around.

The “gut” feel most of us talk about in leadership is a mix of head and heart.

I found an interesting discussion about happiness

What makes a leader happy does not necessarily make people happy. But, what makes the people happy should make him happy

The author goes ahead and gives an example of a typical family environment. Elders are more concerned about the happiness of the growing child. A child’s achievement makes parents happy, much more than their own achievements. The author gives a fantastic example of “a mother takes care of her child when she is sleeping also”… It is worth reading.

Even when she is sleeping, the mother is subconsciously alert and vigilant about the child.

It clearly says that one needs to be vigilant and alert 24X7.

The book also talks about changing social canvas and the problems it brought.

One of the challenges for the Western world is the individualistic culture.

It harms the social tapestry and family canvas. That leads to more mental void than the social distancing. An alarming rise in the cases of depression, people getting more and more insensitive and having less tolerance. Living in a joint family helps to develop these qualities at a very early age.

If mental health issues are not taken care of at the right time, a person can end up in an asylum or even commit suicide, as is evident from the increasing number of student suicides in our country.

It is worth to note that the environment of home and surround impacts a lot in the growth of a child. The book has references to the same as well.

The book talks about the duty of the government. There is a detailed discussion about taxation also.

The first duty of any government is to provide security to its people. Security does not mean having hundred guards protecting you. It is a feeling of being safe.

The book has many quotes about management, here are a few of them:

… appointing a manager who takes care of the details free the owner of “thinking time”.

Management is about deciding the right place and the right time to make our move. Like in warfare, timing is very crucial…

Like love, talent is useful only in its expenditure and is never exhausted.

Plan your work, and work out your plan.

A leader has to do that to prove his leadership abilities.

The book also emphasizes the need for communication and having a discussion for important matters. Often such discussions lead you to view other aspects of the problem. He says:

Disagreement between two people does not mean they do not understand each other.

Contrary to the opinions of half-learned people, money/wealth is never considered as an evil thing. Wealth (aka “Artha”) is considered a very important and pious thing in Bharatiya culture. One needs to understand wealth and has been wise enough to earn/save and share it with society. As Mr. Naryana Murty once said, money gives you power, the power to serve others.

Chanakya has said a lot about it. He advised saving for emergency times and health-related situations also. Being a “pro-agriculture country” people in India are grown up with the habit of saving. Saving for tough times. However, the rise of credit card changed the scenario in such a dramatic way that people, rather than looking whether they have enough money to purchase the thing (or service), looks at their credit availability and blindly keeps purchasing things. Eventually, it leads to problems and tough financial situations.

Here are some quotes in the same regards.

The credit card system has changed this thinking drastically. We tend to look at the product first, and not the treasury, assuming that we can pay for the product later.

Leader should look into the treasury fast.

Creativity and imagination without budgeting is building castles in the air.

Money is never the cause of evil or good. It is neutral. …

Understanding money makes us wise. If there is a financial problem, it is important to face it. It is important to be practical and look for a solution. …

There is a difference between savings and investments. Savings is the first step while

A responsible person will never underestimate the value of money. … Another important dimension of money is to be “money conscious” and not “money-minded”.

Here are some wisdom lines from the book.

Truth is one, but it has various dimensions. A true manager will try to understand this complete truth.

Truth is important, but the ability to communicate the truth in a palatable way is more important.

Resisting change is something that stops us from growth.

The challenge excites us, but the reality is difficult to face.

No war can be fought without weapons. Yet, the man behind the machine is more important than the machine.

Good friends are for all seasons.

While talking about various aspects, the book talks about D. Sivanadhan’s contribution in infrastructure development for police stations, staff quarters, schools and other segments. The book also talks about realities and escapism.

… being a monk does not mean escaping from the realities of the world. It is meant for those who are successful in worldly matters and want to go beyond. A person who cannot prove himself in the world outside, cannot be a winner in the world inside.

I also like a conversation where a student was talking that so and so teacher is not good. Most of the students don’t like the way he/she teaches. The student got to learn an interesting lesson from his elders that, the teacher might have a different method of teaching, it is “you” who needs to be a good student.

As said earlier that the book has many conversations that are worth mentioning, but, in that case, I need to quote tens of pages of the book. Here is one, I cannot resist myself from quoting:

Any disaster is due to ill luck or wrong policy. … However one cannot just blame bad luck without proper planning and efforts. One cannot go to an examination hall without preparation. …

If I had to choose only one quote from the book, it would be:

It is often questioned whether one person alone can transform the whole system. In reality, only one person can transform and create change. Of course, team effort makes the change possible. Yet, the whole process of change begins with that one person who created the change – the transformational leader.

I am intentionally not mentioning the titles of all 7 chapters of the book. You can understand the reason, right?

By now, you must have got a fair idea about the quality of the content you can expect in the book.

Of course, there are places where you may find it more academic, but, a book like this cannot be expected to be a complete entertainer.


Overall, a book worth your time (as I got it to read for free, it is value for money in my case, obviously).

ThinkerViews Rating

Around 8 out of 10.

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Over To You:

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